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Controlling Food Portions for Weight Loss

Armen Hareyan's picture

Eating smaller portions of the same food you've always been eating may be the best "baby step" to take in order to lose weight.


When I was a youngster my family owned a restaurant for a period of time. That's when I first learned about portion control. Portion control is important in the restaurant business to maintain product consistency and costs.

That's as true today as it was back then. But today it seems that everyone feels that bigger is better. There's a mega-biggy everything, especially at the fast food places.

And when did the all you can eat buffet start? They didn't exist way back when. You just got to pig out at the buffet so you get your moneys worth.

The bombardment of advertisements has given a lot of us a warped sense of exactly what a serving should be. Instead of portion control we have portion "out" of control.

Just learning what a serving should be is a great first step for you if you're beginning a weight management program. Eating smaller portions of the same food you've always been eating may be the best "baby step" to take in order to lose weight.

What Counts as a Serving?

Bread, Cereal, Rice & Pasta Group
1 slice bread
1/2 hamburger roll, bagel or English muffin
6-inch tortilla or 4-inch pancake
1/2 cup cooked rice, pasta, barley, bulgur
1/2 cup cooked oatmeal, grits
1 ounce ready-to-eat cereal
3-4 small crackers

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Vegetable Group
1/2 cup chopped raw vegetables
1 cup leafy raw vegetables
1/2 cup cooked vegetables
1/2 cup cooked legumes (beans, peas, lentils)
3/4 cup vegetable juice

Fruit Group
1 medium fruit (apple, orange, banana)
1/2 grapefruit, mango, papaya
3/4 cup juice
1/2 cup berries or cut-up fruit
1/2 cup canned, frozen, or cooked fruit
1/4 cup dried fruit

Milk, Yogurt & Cheese Group
1 cup milk
1 cup yogurt
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1/3 cup dry milk
1 1/2 ounces natural cheese
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
2 ounces processed cheese

Meat, Poultry, Fish, Dry Beans, Eggs & Nuts Group
one serving = 2-3 ounces cooked lean meat, poultry or fish (4 ounces raw = 3 ounces cooked) This is about the size of a deck of cards or an audio tape.

1 ounce meat = 1/2 cup cooked lentils, peas or dry beans;
1 egg; 2 tablespoons peanut butter; 1/3 cup nuts; or 4 ounces tofu

All of the above serving sizes are for reference. You might not actually eat only 3 ounces of meat at a meal. But if you eat six ounces you know you've had two servings.

If you would like to get started on your own portion control program it would be a good idea to actually measure or weigh foods initially. After a while you'll be a good enough judge of servings that you can just "eyeball".


Jim Bolding is the publisher of Diet and Fitness News e-zine and the Webmaster of Dietandfitnessonline.com. To subscribe to Diet and Fitness News send a blank e-mail to the following address: [email protected]